12 July, 2014

Re-entry shock tales

Some of you may be interested to hear of the things that shock us in this time of re-entering our "home" culture. You might be surprised at how many there are. 

This evening, for example, we were driving a road that we know pretty well, when suddenly it split and the half we were on took a dive under a bridge. We thought we were headed in the wrong direction. No one had told us that that particularly intersection had been radically altered.


Early reentry shock last week involved impressions like how much space Australia has, so many parks, so much space between houses and the road and each other. We continue to be amazed at this. But I have to admit I don't miss hearing my neighbour in the shower, or the guy a couple of houses down blowing his nose just as we went to bed.

Sizes of containers at the store: eg last night my husband was shocked at the frozen veggie packets. They're usually about 250-400g in Japan. Here the norm seems to be around 1kg. Our boys are getting used to pouring 3L bottles of milk again, after doing 1L cartons for the last four years. 

Accent is another shock. This is slowly wearing off, but most Aussies sound to broad to the outside ear! Our boys' accents are fluxing and changing too. I wonder how foreign they'll sound to their classmates when they get there. 

I have a subtle feeling that people might or might not be staring at us. They often do in Japan (very subtly). Question is, if they are staring here, why?

My middle son and I had to answer this question at the optometrists yesterday: "So what's it like living in Japan?" We were speechless for a time until my 11 y.o. finally manage to spluttter out, "Lots of people!"

McDonalds menu here is so different to that of Japan's. It's so much more complicated. My first attempt at ordering I had an impatient cashier who didn't get that I wanted a wrap with salad and no fries or drink. Her terminology was confusing and her manner not that helpful. 

Japan is terribly organised and rules orientated. Australia seems a little lackadaisical after that. In some ways that is refreshing, like being able to chat with the drugs inspector at Cairns about snorkelling on the reef. In other ways, like when we needed assistance with the assembly of a new bike and being told we have to wait till next Tuesday (the only day this store does bike assembly), was a bit of a shock. 

We asked at the boys' new school where we would park bikes, as we're intending to get the boys to ride to school as much as possible. The admin lady had to make enquiries about this. Another lady said she doesn't know of any primary kids who've ever ridden to the school (Grades 1-7)!

We found that driving home at 7.30 on a work evening, there were very few cars on the road. This afternoon we drove right across the bottom part of Brisbane (from the east coast to home in the east of Ipswich) it only took 45 minutes! Where is everybody?

We've also rediscovered that driving in Australia is much easier than driving in Japan. The roads are wider, meaning we're not dodging power poles (which are often on the thinner roads in Japan), or pedestrians,or cyclists, or dumpsters, or even other cars. Many local roads in Japan are only just wide enough for two cars to pass if the above common obstacles are absent. But you still have to slow right down to avoid scraping side mirrors. Intersections on these skinny roads often require careful manoeuvring, not a straight-through drive. Being able to drive almost into the centre of town (about 26 km away) in only 30 minutes (encountering less than a dozen traffic lights) is no less than a miracle!

The stories will keep coming. Stay tuned!

7 comments:

Joan Justiniano said...

The open spaces was one we dealt with a number of years ago when we returned for home ministry. We had flown into Denver and the airport at that time was surrounded by lots of empty land and one of our kids looked out the car window and said, "What's all this land for?" The idea that it wasn't for anything was difficult to grasp!

Janet Camilleri said...

Welcome back! How time flies :-)

Angela H said...

Yeah, we only had one litre milk in Germany and the two & three litre milks here took some getting used to again!

Melissa said...

Rob did some work on the planning of that road project. We have only visited Brisbane a couple of times since it has been completed. I am still a bit confused about what lane I would need to be in for anything other straight ahead.

Wendy said...

Joan, I totally understand. We are blown away by how much "non-purposeful" space there is here in Australia.

Melissa, we were going straight ahead, but the lane said "City", however it didn't turn us in that direction as we thought it probably would. No doubt we'll have a few more chances to try it out.

Wendy said...

Joan, I totally understand. We are blown away by how much "non-purposeful" space there is here in Australia.

Melissa, we were going straight ahead, but the lane said "City", however it didn't turn us in that direction as we thought it probably would. No doubt we'll have a few more chances to try it out.

Sarah said...

Welcome back! I won't say 'home' because I know it must be strange with homes in Australia and in Japan, but ultimately our true 'home' is with our Father. It's always good to read others' impressions of life in Australia as it just seems normal to me, but must seem alien returning to or arriving in for the first time.